#JusticeforLB: Pass it on please
[This is a long post – skip to the end if you want a very short version]
The mood is good in the Justice Shed at the moment, now the initial supply issues have resolved we’re enjoying a brief little pocket of space to reflect and marvel at readers comments, reviews and tweets as they read Justice for Laughing Boy and the impact and importance of doing so. Here are a selection of quotations from them, each one includes a link to the full review if you’d like to read more:
‘A most important book for anyone with a heart. From the opening page, of which I don’t think I have read a better one, albeit heart breaking I could hear LB’s voice the whole time. A story of a beautiful life denied by those who think they know better. Please everyone read and listen’. [Standa’s review – Good Reads]
‘A beautifully written and captivating account of a whole families efforts to understand and see justice for their laughing boy. What I got out of it – how powerful social media can be in the right hands, how strong a mother’s and family love is, how powerful large organisations are, and a shift in my thoughts about LD people. In short, loved it!’ [A truly exceptional book, I dare you not to be moved – Amazon Customer]
‘LB is the real hero of the book and as a society we failed him.
We also failed the hundreds of other learning disabled people who the book shows died early and without appropriate investigations into their deaths. He and all learning disabled people deserved and deserve so much more’. [A wonderful book everyone should read – Trying for a Baby]
‘What keeps them going is love – love for Connor, love for each other – and by sharing that love through blogging, social media and public engagement, they multiply it. It grows, spreads, comes back to them and goes out again to other ‘dudes’ and families. A crowdfunded inquest becomes a crowdsourced movement for justice and a crowdpowered determination to make a difference to the lives of people with learning disabilities,
Read it for the story. Read it for the laughs. Read it for the swears (I defy you not to join in at times, however genteel your language normally). Read it to reflect on your own attitudes and actions, personally, professionally and (small-p) politically. Read it to see how ‘little’ people, working together, can shake the Olympian heights. Above all, read it for Connor and all the disregarded, unnoticed people.
‘…This book is also about an issue I have very little knowledge of, learning disability, In a non sensationalist way this book tells it as it is about how people with learning disability are treated as second rate citizens from the moment they are diagnosed and how loved ones have to fight for their basic rights. It has challenged my thinking of being ‘normal’ through heartwarming snippets of dialogue, the funny yet heartbreaking real observations of a young person who sees life with none of life’s ‘learned’ filters, and the imagined dialogue of what he would think about the years since he died. It’s full of humour and warmth to melt even the coldest of hearts. Thank you for writing this book Sara it has changed my thinking of learning (dis)ability, and of difference (what is ‘normal anyway?) I am so pleased to have met Connor through this book. His story has touched my heart and soul’. [A book full of harsh realities, humour and love. (Bring tissues) – Amazon Customer]
‘A book for all of us with similar wonderful children who become wonderful adults in a world that doesn’t acknowledge that possibiity. There are thousands of us in the UK today in 2017 who have had some of the experiences of Connor’s family. In our own case, a very, very close brush with death due to the ignorance too commonplace in the NHS and elsewhere. We demand change! This book is a rallying call and for all those who value people and believe totally that professionals of all kinds have to work with families, I urge you to read it’ [An important book and a wake-up call – Jackie C]
— CaoilfhionnGallagher (@caoilfhionnanna) October 8, 2017
George Welch from the Oxfordshire Guardian spoke to Sara about the book and produced a double page spread for their paper; a brilliant overview of the book, the campaign and Connor himself:
— George Welch (@gwelchh) October 5, 2017
Stephen Unwin wrote a cracking blog post reviewing the book:
‘This remarkable group of fighters for justice – a real community of friends and activists, it seems – has turned the deadly certainties of the world on its head and deserve all our thanks.
But the battle is never over. My second son Joey has some of the same characteristics as Connor – charming, cheeky and funny, but with more profound learning disabilities (he has no speech) and lifelong intractable epilepsy – and I never engage with the Campaign for LB without thinking about him, and the thousands of others who have been spared the horrors faced by Sara Ryan, but who are confronted by a system that for all its aspirational language and soothing words still fails the most vulnerable on a daily basis.
If we believe that you can judge the health of a society by the way it treats its weakest members, Sara Ryan’s account should make all of us recognise just how much more has to be done for the great ideals of inclusion, diversity and justice to be realised. Connor, poor Connor, and his devastated family has met with some form of justice. But the great struggle for all the other ‘dudes’ (and ‘dudettes’) continues. This astonishingly powerful book helps show us the way’.
— Martin Coyle (@coyle_mj) October 6, 2017
Oxfordshire Association of Care Providers reviewed the book on their website, they’re strategic partners with Oxfordshire County Council too so hopefully they’ll pass the book onto them:
‘Justice for Laughing Boy is part love story about a much-loved son, brother and friend, Connor Sparrowhawk, and part seering indictment of our health and social care system. It’s all the more powerful because of this juxta-position. At times, you feel part of the family as they career off on another fantastic adventure; the chaos of family life that we can all identify with. At others, it grips your heart with a cold hand and gives it a hard squeeze. I don’t know the family, or indeed many of the key players in the book, personally, but in recognising names and places, the book has an unnerving closeness. This happened in our local area, within a system that we are part of. How can something like this happen in the 21st Century?
There is a well-recognised reaction of organisations when attacked. They close up and act as one organism – corporate loyalty. We see it in our own families sometimes, or in our friendship groups. All for one and one for all. Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust closed ranks and forgot what they they were there for, but in the process used public money to distract and fog the pursuit of Dr Ryan to find the truth of what happened on 4 July 2013 and in the days leading up to Connor’s death. In that pusuit Dr Ryan uncovered systemic rot through the organisation, which has had wide-reaching implications for past, present and future people with a learning disability and autism who use NHS services’
— Jen Krutzinna (@Jen_BMJ) October 6, 2017
— Laurenjcharlton (@DrLaurenMorgan) October 8, 2017
— Katherine Runswick-C (@k_runswick_cole) October 7, 2017
— Steven Shorrock (@StevenShorrock) October 9, 2017
This happened in the 21st century. In the UK. In the NHS.
— Shelley Talbot (@Shelley_Talbot) October 9, 2017
When the book published we started plotting ways to draw attention to it by the powers that be, and those who we’re not directly connected with. Much as we love JusticeforLB’ers we are super aware of the danger of our own echo chamber, the wish is that this book reaches as wide an audience as possible. We had a few conversations in the Justice Shed about encouraging people to pass the book on, to lend it, to buy it as a gift for people. In true JusticeforLB fashion, it started happening organically:
— Stepping Forward (@steppingfwduk) October 6, 2017
It's an astonishing piece of writing Sara. Took me on an emotional white water ride. I've ordered 5 more copies for each of the support team
— Mark Neary (@MarkNeary1) October 2, 2017
I agree. I’ve been thinking I’ll buy another one and lend it out to G’s workers. Maybe we should send one to the SEND dept too 😉
— Deborah Woodhouse (@DeborahWoodhou1) October 8, 2017
There have been talks of virtual book clubs to raise awareness and encourage people to read and discuss the book:
— Mary Ellen Macdonald (@MaryEllenMacdo8) October 10, 2017
— Maddy Bunker (@MaddyCBunker) October 10, 2017
— Amanda Taylor (@AMLTaylor66) October 10, 2017
We’ve been compiling a list in the Justice Shed of people we’d like to read the book. Some of them already have it:
— Andrea Sutcliffe (@Crouchendtiger7) October 1, 2017
and hopefully others will too….
Well, it's his birthday soon, so maybe my present dilemma is over.
— Andrea Sutcliffe (@Crouchendtiger7) October 1, 2017
Some have promised to read it:
— Sara (@sarasiobhan) October 5, 2017
I will encourage others to as well
— Ray James (@rayjjames) October 5, 2017
And we strongly suspect some will have no idea who we are, what has happened or why they should care; not to mention what a stonkingly good book they’ll get to read if they do.
— Sara (@sarasiobhan) October 9, 2017
— Sara (@sarasiobhan) October 10, 2017
In a nutshell
We think this book is ace. We want as many people to read it as possible.
So JusticeforLB’ers we’d like you to help us out.
Please can you add a comment to this post with up to three people who you would like to read it, and why. We’ll not make comments public immediately (very unusual for us) instead we’ll save them up for a big reveal, a new post, with the list of people who we’d like to read the book.
Once the list is public then we’ll ask for volunteers who are prepared to loan their copy to someone on the list. We’ll pair people up and ask the JusticeforLB’er (that’s you if you’re reading this, everyone is welcome) to send or give their copy to their person and include a postcard/letter/conversation about why the book was important to you, and why they should find the time to read it.
Then if we’re really lucky we can start some more conversations and spread the book and LB far and wide.